Self-Publishing : Taking Our Power Back

 

Dont Care

So I sent out about 70 query letters to literary agents for my middle-grade novel, The Joyville Sweat Sox. The response has been less than stellar. It’s not that the agents don’t like the novel, it’s just that they’re not reading it. So far, only one literary agent requested to read the novel.

I heard back from her just the other day.

The query response rate is never great, but it’s usually better than this. Typically, I will send out 70-80 query letters and about 4-5 of the agencies will request a full or partial of the manuscript. Sure, those four or five will almost surely reject the manuscript in the end, but at least you get a few weeks to dream.

Not this time. This time, only one literary agency requested to read the novel. This was the same agency who said they loved my last novel, said it had a strong chance of publication, and that they were seriously considering taking it on. Then, after two months of radio silence, ultimately declined because they were “too busy”. Given my history with this agency, I didn’t know if was a good thing that they requested this latest book or not. Would they be impressed if they now read two novels of mine that they enjoyed? Would they brush me off again? Would they not like this book?

Oddly, I hadn’t really been giving much thought to this latest submission. Normally, I sit around on pins and needles, waiting to hear back from the agency who will determine my fate. Will this be it? My big break? This time, I found myself forgetting that I even had submitted the book for consideration. I had already kind of made up my mind then when the response came in –  I’d be upset about it for few hours, and then let it go. There was kind of a lot riding on this submission. I really like this novel, I’m proud of it, and this one was the only agency biting. It was either them or nothing.

When the email response finally came in, the one from the agency with my novel’s title in the subject heading, I was overwhelmed with a sudden realization.

I don’t care.

Even before I read the email, I realized I simply did not care what they thought. That may not seem like a big deal, but I’ve spent my entire “career” as a writer living and dying by what agents, producers, editors, and publishers thought of my work. It was totally up to them as to whether my particular story would live another day or die a slow, languishing death.  And it was always death. Always. Over and over, I’ve been told I’m a good writer, told I have talent, and yet they always pass.

Things are different now. For the last year, I’ve been laboring to get my favorite novel. QUEEN HENRY, ready for self-publication. No, it’s not going to be on the shelves of Barnes and Noble, Books a Million, or on any library shelf. But it will be out there. If I get five readers, that will be five more than usually read my work. This time, there’s no maybe about it. As long as I’m still alive in 12 weeks, this is going to happen.

The same day I got the email from the agency, I’d spent the day making some final changes to QUEEN HENRY based on my latest editor’s feedback. I guess I was feeling especially productive and very attached to the material I was working on because I knew it was actually going somewhere come July. Suddenly, it just didn’t matter what the traditional publishing world thought of me because it was totally irrelevant.

The truth is that nobody knows what’s going to sell. Both traditional and self-publishers just make the best guess we can about what’s going to please the reader, but nobody knows for sure. The great thing is that, these days, a self-published author has just as much of a shot of being successful as a traditional published one. Sure, we may not sell as many copies as an author who’s backed by an agent and publisher, but we’re not forking over 80% of our profits, either. We don’t have to sell as many books to be successful. Since nobody knows what will sell, it makes sense for self-publishers to write the best book we can, release it to world, and then get to work on the next one. In the first one doesn’t sell, that sucks, but oh, well. There’s more where that came from. With traditional publishers, the door is slammed shut on 99% of writers before they even get a chance. Who knows how many bestsellers there could be in that large group of writers? It’s not really the publishers’ fault. It’s just business. It’s just not a particularly great business model anymore, which is why it’s failing…

Anyway.

It’s a good thing i didn’t care about what the literary agent thought of my work…

The truth is, they were actually quite complimentary. They said it was really good, funny, well-written, and so forth. They said, however, that it was in need of a “paid professional edit” to make it more accessible to middle-graders and they were more than happy to provide their special editorial services. A quick look at their website for such services revealed their prices were about $1000. At best, this is a conflict of interest. At worst, it’s a scam.

Which means that the best response that I ever got from a literary agent, the time where they “almost” represented my first novel, was a total lie.

I should be devastated.

I’m not.

It’s a combination of world-weariness (15 years as a screenwriter, 5 years as a novelist) and optimism as a self-publisher, but I just don’t care. This is not the first time I’ve been jerked around by a so-called professional in the biz, but it just might be the last. My plan was to query agents with my future novels, and then just self-publish when they all got rejected. Now, I’m thinking maybe I won’t bother. I just don’t really give a damn what the “professionals” think any more. It’s not that Joyville doesn’t need work – I’m sure it does. Being told by an agent that a book needs work is standard procedure. In fact, I would be suspicious of an agent that agreed to take on a work “as is” without suggesting any revision. However, I’ve never heard of an agent saying you must pay for a professional edit. I’ve been writing for a long time and have been read by many agents and producers – no one has ever said my work was not professionally written. This agency just told me that the book needed work in order to be more age-appropriate for middle-graders. This is probably a valid viewpoint and one that I will take under serious consideration in the future if I decide to go forward with publishing the book myself. However, any agency that tells you that you must pay for an edit – and that they would be more than happy to take your money – is not to be trusted.

I found it so liberating that my gut reaction to receiving the email – even before reading it – was indifference. It’s not that I don’t care what anyone thinks. I’m in the process of having a couple of beta readers tear my second novel apart and for my own good. I care what they think because I care what my readers will ultimately think. It’s their ultimate opinions that matter the most. It’s just that the opinions of a few, highly selective traditional publishing folks stopped mattering to me somewhere along the way.

Cool.

I keep hearing Morgan Freeman’s voice in my head. “So you go on and stamp your form, sonny, and stop wasting my time. Because, to tell you the truth, I don’t give a shit.”

It’s time to let the readers decide.

– Linda Fausnet

UPDATE

QUEEN HENRY is now available at the following retailers:

Amazon eBook 

Paperback

Smashwords

Barnes and Noble

* All proceeds net of taxes will go to the Harvey Milk Foundation **

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Join my WRITERS email list for Writing Tips and Book Recommendations!

**Readers:

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On Finding the Energy to Deal with Traditional Publishing

This article is part of my ongoing Wannabe Pride Self-Publishing blog series in preparation for publishing my novel, QUEEN HENRY, in July of 2014. Proceeds from this novel will go to the Harvey Milk Foundation.

34 Weeks Until Publication

Right now I’m wrapping up the final query letters to agents and publishers for my middle grade novel, RAIN ON THE WATER, and I’m about to start rewrites on another middle grade novel in January. Of course, I’m still working on getting my novel, QUEEN HENRY, ready to self-publish in July. Though I know it’s possible to self-publish middle grade novels, it seems to me that it would be extremely difficult to market to nine-to-twelve-year-old kids online. Yes, I’m sure there are nine-year-olds are Twitter, but they shouldn’t be! Essentially, I feel like it’s traditional publishing or bust when it comes to my middle grade stories.

It’s amazing to me how different my experiences are with self-publishing vs traditional publishing. When I’m working on my self-publishing project, I feel excited and invigorated. I feel like everything I read, everything I learn, everything I write, everything I DO goes toward the final product. With traditional publishing, I often feel depressed, even hopeless sometimes. So little is up to me with that process. I work extremely hard, but I always hit a huge wall that separates me from the Traditional Publishing World. I’m not allowed in there. That wall is guarded by Agents and Publishers who keep telling me, no matter how hard I try, I do not have permission to enter. For the most part, they’re nice, reasonable, professional people who are not out to get me. It’s just that there are hundreds of thousands of us writers, like peasants, who are begging to get past that wall and they have to tell most of us NO. That’s just the way it is. It’s not personal. They don’t even know who we are. We’re just faceless peasants trying to get in. They don’t even look at us, so they’ll never really know how good or bad we are. We’re just bodies in a crowd.

In the Guide to Literary Agents, there are hundreds of literary agents listed. Out of those hundreds and hundreds PLUS the huge listing of agents listed online at the Association of Author’s Representatives, I found exactly 87 agents who were willing to consider new, unpublished writers and who happened to be interested in my genre. So I queried those 87 agents. Of those 87 agents, 5 of them requested to read a full or partial manuscript. Four of those agents rejected the story kindly and actually had some good things to say about it. In a particularly heartbreaking gesture, one agent said she wanted to represent me and then changed her mind…

It took weeks to pore over all those agent lists. You can’t just go by what’s in the book. You have to go look up the agency online and see what their submission guidelines are and if they are still looking for work in your genre. It’s very frustrating to find an agency that is actually seeking books in my specific genre, only to go online and find out that their policy is to only consider people who are referred by a published author or if they’ve met you personally at a conference. To me, this policy is infuriatingly unfair. Remember the image of peasants trying to get past the huge wall? That’s what it’s like to go to a writing conference. I’ve only been to a few conferences, and I’ve left each one in tears. I found the whole experience frustrating, demeaning, and demoralizing, not to mention it cost me a lot of money that I simply do not have to spare. One conference actually had a session on “How to Make the Most of Your Relationship with Your Agent”. I’m sure the select few who are lucky enough to get an agent might need this session, but for me it felt like a painful slap in the face. That’s like going to a matchmaking conference and having a session for brides on “Planning Your Wedding”.

Now I’m sure there are a lot of warm, wonderful literary agents out there, but I will never forget a comment I overheard from a speaker at a conference. She said “I like doing these things, but you always wind up with a whole line of people who want to talk to you.” I will never forget how small and insignificant that comment made me feel. I didn’t bother to hang around to speak to her. She may be one of the ones whose submission guidelines say you must have met her personally to submit, yet she doesn’t want to talk to you at a conference.

And I don’t care how much social networking you do, most writers DO NOT know traditionally published authors personally. Their virtual peasant line is probably longer than the one for Agents and Publishers. Even the kindest authors do not have time to get to know a bunch of wannabe writers, let alone will they vouch for them. And why should they?

Even when you do find an Agent who is willing to read a query letter from someone she doesn’t know, the odds are still pretty infinitesimal that she will be interested enough in the story to actually take the time to read it. This is totally understandable, but discouraging nonetheless. They may get hundreds of queries every day and they’re looking for a reason to get your query out of their inbox. Wouldn’t you?

If you think getting an Agent is impossible, the odds get worse when you try to approach a Publisher. I pored though all 230 pages of publishers listed in the 2014 Writer’s Market to find publishers in my genre who were willing to review manuscripts of unagented writers.

I found thirteen.

There are thirteen small publishers who will consider my book even though I don’t have an agent.

Several of the listings who refuse to consider me actually state “We suggest you find a literary agent to represent you.” Like I hadn’t thought of that and already been through hell and back trying. That’s like telling someone who lost their job “We suggest you go out and win the lottery”. Sometimes I feel like lottery odds are better than winning the publishing game. I really do.

Of those thirteen listings, two of them require an exclusive of three months. Meaning if I submit my manuscript to them, I’m not allowed to send it anywhere for three months. At that rate, I could submit to four publishers a year. One publisher stated that they required a three-month exclusive “For obvious reasons”. Yes, it’s obvious that you want the odds weighted squarely in your favor and you don’t mind tying the writer’s hands for three months. PASS. Yes, even we peasant writers have a choice when submitting and I’m not wasting my time on YOU.

So. You can see where the feelings of hopelessness come from. You can’t help asking yourself – What’s the point?

I’m wrapping up queries on RAIN ON THE WATER now, so the agony is almost over for this story. But what about the one I’m supposed to start working on in January? I’ve finished the first draft, but of course there’s a lot more work to be done on that one. I’m finding it very hard to summon the energy to start the whole process over again. I can’t help but think that the only thing the future holds for the next novel is more frustration, rejection, and hopelessness. You try to be optimistic, but the harsh truth is that hard work and perseverance really might not be enough, no matter what it says on that inspirational meme.

A wonderful agent recently wrote an article essentially stating that fact. You can have a great query AND a great book and STILL get rejected. Repeatedly, and maybe forever. WHY YOU’RE GETTING REJECTIONS.

I know I’ve painted a rather negative picture of Agents and Publishers here, but the truth is that I’ve encountered a lot of kindhearted professionals in this business. Traditional Publishers really aren’t out to get you. It’s just a numbers game that even really good writers have a very small chance of winning. It’s NOT just about talent. It’s talent and hard work, but it’s also about luck, who you happen to know, and who has enough money to attend lots of writer conferences.

So why try?

It’s getting harder and harder for me to answer that question, especially with the advent of self-publishing. Still, if I want to write middle grade, its keep trying to scale the Agent/Publisher wall or quit altogether. So for this next novel, it’s going to be Traditional Publishing or nothing.

Want to lay odds on which one will happen?

Why am I doing this again?

That’s a hard question to answer right at this moment. But I’m betting that when I open up that first draft I wrote, read it, and start walking in the footsteps of my characters again, I’m going to remember all the reasons why I do this.

-Linda Fausnet

When It’s Time to Permanently Shelve Your Unpublished Novel

This article is part of my ongoing Wannabe Pride Self-Publishing blog series in preparation for publishing my novel, QUEEN HENRY, in July of 2014. Proceeds from this novel will go to the Harvey Milk Foundation.

 

36 Weeks Until Publication 

Though my Friday blogs focus mainly on my preparation for self-publishing this summer, I still haven’t completely given up on the hope of traditional publishing someday. Today, I’d like to talk about what happens when you reach the end of the line on a given project.

For self-publishing, the “end of the line” can be a very happy time. The end – or what you could even call the beginning – is publication. For traditional publishing, the end of the line can be when you’ve queried all the agents you can find and contacted all the publishers who are willing to accept un-agented material, and, quite simply, nobody wants your work.

I think we all know that writing can be a huge risk. If you do it right, it takes an awful lot of time, work, research, rewriting, and editing to complete a project. No matter how good a manuscript might be, the possibility is great that it will always remain unpublished.

I’ve almost reached that stage with the first manuscript I ever wrote – my middle-grade novel called RAIN ON THE WATER. I wrote it first as a screenplay all the way back in 1994, and then years later, in 2009, I turned it into a novel. I’ve written lots of other works in the meantime, and that’s why it’s taken so long to reach the end of my queries for this one. Today, I sent my last agent query for this book. I reached the end of the all the lists I could find. I plan to give it a few more weeks to hear back from the literary agents, and then I plan to query publishers in December. I don’t expect that it will take that long, since I would be surprised if I find a large number of publishers willing to look at unagented work.

There’s almost a sense of relief in letting this novel go. Not worrying about querying for this one means one less thing I have to do. I have another middle grade novel that I plan on querying with  in the next few months ( I won’t consider self-publishing any of my middle grade work, because I can’t imagine how you would market to nine-year-olds online). For that one, I’ve decided I want to wrap up the queries much faster, rather than letting it drag on for years. I hate to sound pessimistic, but twenty years of writing will do that sometimes. I figure I will query the list of agents, then publishers, get rejected by everybody, and then move on to other projects…

Still, it is a little difficult to let this novel go. It was the first story I ever wrote! There are a lot of memories associated with it. I remember exactly where I was when I came up with the idea for the book (college lounge room). I remember the field trip to the Indian burial ground when I was doing research for the story. I remember all the reading I did about Native Americans. The Native music I listened to. All the heart I put into the story and the characters. I remember that day when I lived in Baltimore and we were in the middle of a huge snowstorm in 1996 and I received a phone call from sunny Los Angeles. It was the producer from Mega Films, Inc, telling me she wanted to option my screenplay. I remember years later when another producer, from Runaway Productions, also optioned RAIN ON THE WATER. I remember reading the story to my kids. They really liked it. My kids are very sweet, and they would tell me they loved it no matter what, but I would know if they were lying. My son always insists that he loves my dinner, even when I burn it beyond recognition. I know he’s lying, but I love him for it. I know my kids. I know when they’re bored. They’re not good fakers, and I’m telling you, my daughter was on the edge of her seat when I read her this book.  I was surprised at how much she got into it. I really was. At the time, she didn’t really realize that, since it was a kid’s book, of course everything would turn out okay! She even read the book AGAIN on her own. That really floored me.

I also remember the years and years of rejection. I remember the literary agent from New York City who told me she loved the novel. She told me she wanted to represent it. Then she ignored me for two months, leaving me hanging, only to finally summon the energy to tell me she was “too busy” to represent my novel after all.

I get the rejection thing. I do. But there’s no excuse for the particularly cruel type of disrespect for a writer displayed by that agent. I still don’t know how  she was able to say something like that, all but promising representation, and then walk away without a word for months. I can’t help but hope that one of the publishers DOES say yes. With a deal on a table, it would be easy to get an agent to represent me. I can’t help but wish I could go back to that agent and tell her that if she hadn’t been so heartless, I would have let her have this deal without her even having to do anything!

Okay. Back to reality. That’ s not likely to happen. What is likely to happen is that I will close out my querying for RAIN ON THE WATER by the end of the year. The sun will set on that particular book, and I will start 2014 without that novel being in my life anymore.

Of course, nothing that you’ve written ever really goes away. The lessons you’ve learned and the experiences you have stay with you. I can truly say I gave it my all with this novel, and it’s okay to let it go.

I think it’s almost time.

– Linda Fausnet

There’s Something Worse Than A Rejection Letter….

The second novel that I wrote was called QUEEN HENRY. It’s about a macho, homophobic, MLB player, Henry Vaughn Jr., who takes part in a clinical drug trial to treat his asthma; and the experimental drug makes him gay. He then falls in love with a man and learns a lesson about what it’s really like to be gay. I wrote it first as a screenplay in 2005, then as a novel in 2011. In my 18 years of being a writer, it’s my favorite story.

When I started querying agents with the story, I got the same answer from many people. The audience (meaning gays) is too small for it to make a profit. The only answer for me is to self-publish, or turn to small, LGBT publishers.

 When I sat down to find some LGBT publishers, I was thrilled to find a long list of them. So maybe traditional publication was still possible after all! I sent out a bunch of queries, and yesterday one of the publishers responded favorably after I sent them a synopsis and two chapters. They wrote back to say they liked the concept, enjoyed the writing, and wanted to see the rest of the manuscript! They don’t accept simultaneous submissions, which means I can’t send the novel to anybody else while they have it. Since their turnaround time was only 1-2 weeks, that was no problem for me. Another publishing company posted their times as 14 weeks – also no simultaneous submissions. No wonder I queried this place first right?

 I was so happy to wake up yesterday morning to see an email from the publisher telling me they loved my synopsis and chapters and they wanted to see the full manuscript. If you read my Facebook regularly, you know that I keep a tally of rejections vs. acceptances. For QUEEN HENRY, it was 59 – 1. Guess which number is the rejection column? It’s very rare to get a Yes, and I am one to celebrate every small victory. I was ready to post on Facebook that JohnDoeBooks (not their real name…) had requested my full manuscript. I was prepared to get lots of Likes from people that are used to seeing my post my rejections.

 I sent the publisher the manuscript, prepared to have at least one week of hope. Sure, publishers reject most of the manuscripts they get and most likely this Acceptance would eventually turn into a Rejection, but I had at least one week to dream while they read the novel.

 Within 15 minutes of emailing the manuscript, they emailed me a publishing contract.

If you don’t see anything wrong with this, then step into my office and we can go over the catalog of bridges I have for sale – cheap!

None of it was real.

Sure, it was “technically” a small publishing company in that they do publish online and paperback books. They’re not a vanity press because they don’t charge any money. I don’t think…I don’t know. I didn’t really read the contract. Clearly, any “publisher” that’s willing to publish something they HAVE NOT READ is not legit.

 This isn’t the first time this has happened (an “agent” once offered me representation without reading the screenplay). It probably won’t be the last time, either.

 But it still hurts. Worse than if they had just said no.

 I wanted to believe that someone read my sample chapters and synopsis, liked them, and wanted to read more. I wanted to have at least one week of enjoying a real Yes from a real publisher.

 I wrote the guy back and told him kindly but honestly that I wasn’t sure I was comfortable with a publisher that would publish something they hadn’t read. (Seriously, what if the novel was really stereotypical and offensive to gays? It’s not, but how does he know??) The guy wrote back and said:

We read the synopsis and the sample chapters, which show us your writing ability and the story’s focus. We wanted to see the full manuscript for word count only; we had already decided we liked the story and wanted to publish it. You can tell within the first few pages if an author is good and marketable. We’ve published a lot of gay fiction, particularly gay erotic romance, and recognize talent when we see it.

 I suppose I should take that as a compliment. I guess they don’t publish EVERYTHING they get (Who knows. Maybe they do.), but it still doesn’t seem legitimate at all.

So it’s back to square one. Again. Maybe I’ll query that other publisher. Sure, they take 14 weeks to review your manuscript, but in that time maybe they’ll actually read it.

On to the next….

Rejection #43

I’ve been keeping a running tally on Facebook of all the rejections I receive on my novel, QUEEN HENRY. Most of them are form letters and I’ve gotten a few brief but personal messages from agents. I thought I would share this form rejection in full because I thought it was pretty cool :)

Dear Author,

Well, it’s finally happened: after over thirty years of answering every query letter that has ever come my way, I’ve been forced to finally acknowledge that a new era is upon us all.  Before the arrival of e-mail submissions, I used to receive perhaps one hundred queries a week.  That was a lot of queries but it wasn’t frankly unmanageable.  The Friedrich Agency now receives more than twice that on a daily basis and it’s becoming impossible to attend to much of anything else!  I’m so sorry for the impersonal response, I hate to do this.  Writing a good book or a good proposal is among the hardest things in the world to do; I promise, we’re not unsympathetic!  You have our word that we are reading every single query letter that comes our way, but from now on, we’re only responding personally if we’re sufficiently curious and would like to read further. Please don’t take offense at this Draconian measure– there is undoubtedly a wonderful agent out there for whom your book might just be the perfect match. Toward that end, we wish you all the best!

Take care,

Molly Friedrich

I thought this was really nice and it was a good reminder to me that, in the end, rejection really isn’t personal…

So Here’s What Happened This Week (February 17, 2012)

 

What I Did: Conducted research, outlining, and character work for my new novel, SINGLES VS. BRIDEZILLAS.  Began actually writing  the novel – 2600 words so far.

Got five more rejections on my novel, QUEEN HENRY.

Sent out more queries.

What I Read: Plot and Fiction by James Scott Bell.

                                 His, Unexpectedly by Susan Fox.

Thanks, Santa, but this was NOT on my list…

Twas the last mailing day before Christmas (Christmas Eve) when I went out to the mailbox. All I wanted for Christmas (in the mail, anyway) was a Ryan Reynolds autograph….

For those of you unfamiliar with the Wannabe Autograph Project – I’ve been sending out my Wannabe flyer for my blog and asking celebrities to autograph it and write an inspirational “don’t give up” kind of message. I’ve gotten some truly amazing responses – many of them far better than just my little paper flyer. I get envelopes and packages of all sizes and it’s usually something pretty cool.

Autographs

So when I saw the manila envelope in my mailbox on Christmas Eve, it took me an extra second or two to realize what it was, though I did figure it out before I even touched the envelope.

It was my manuscript being returned to me by the literary agent who requested it last month.

Make no mistake – I FULLY expected to get a rejection. Though I’ve been writing screenplays for more than a decade, this was my first novel. Sure, I worked very hard on it. I read book after book after book on how to write a novel – believe me, I didn’t just dive in and start writing. I did my homework. I wrote and rewrote and rewrote, had it reviewed by a professional first, etc. But still, this was my first novel. I learned a long time ago that writing well is an incredibly difficult thing to do. I’ve mentally prepared to get well over a dozen rejections (at LEAST) before I have any success on this novel. I knew it was coming.

Just not on Christmas Eve.

Here is the rejection in it’s entirety:

“Thank for (sic!) giving me the opportunity to consider RAIN ON THE WATER. It is obvious that you have had a lot of experience and success with your writing. I particularly enjoyed the plot of your story and think that the way you jump right into the excitement and mystery is effective. Unfortunately, though, I’m going to pass. While your plot developed well, I found Jeri and Crystal difficult to relate to.

I’m sorry not to be your match on this project. I don’t doubt that another agent will feel differently.”

At first I was irritated at receiving a rejection on Christmas Eve. But the more I thought about it, the better I felt. I KNEW this novel would be rejected numerous times and I still fully expect that I will need to do numerous rewrites once I get more feedback on what needs to be redone.

I never expected my first rejection on my novel to be this GOOD.

And to me, that’s a win.

Why You Didn’t Get the Part

Many thanks to Aaron Marcus, premier acting and commercial modeling career coach for providing today’s blog entry! He is the author of How To Become a Successful Commercial Model and creator of the Becoming a Successful Actor & Commercial Model Workshop.

Some actors/models blame their agent when work is slow. I want to share an experience I just had with an agent (about a potential job) that will be helpful to you.

I received a phone call from an agent wanting to know if I could work as an extra on a TV spot. Because it was a Union job, and shooting all night, I could earn about $300. I wanted the job. I called the agent the next day to see if I got the booking, and she told me the client decided to cast someone else.

There are so many factors that go into getting cast, and tons of reasons why you might not get chosen. For instance: you might be too beautiful, and would not look like you would be married to the husband who has already been cast. Maybe you look like the director’s ex-wife, and he doesn’t want to be reminded of a bad experience. Perhaps you do not look like you belong in the family with the mom and dad who have already been cast – you could be too tall or short, and not match up well with other family members. It is possible your look is so strong that you would stand out too much, and people would not focus on the product.

The point is, you can only ask your agent to submit you for projects. Sometimes, there are many other people who have to decide who is going to get cast. The fact of the matter is, your agent has nothing to do with the final decision.

NOT a good way to start the day

Dear Linda,

We are getting ready to announce the July Contest results on the website, but before we do I wanted to give you an update on your feedback.

All scripts for July have been read and judged, but we are still in the process of combining, proofing, and sending feedback. We hope to finish this process within a week.

As you may know, we experienced some staff turnover last month that resulted in getting behind schedule for June. Once we fall behind, it is very difficult to catch up since there are no breaks between each contest. But rest assured we are doing everything we can to get caught up for this month and onward.

We sincerely apologize for the delay, and are working very hard to get your feedback to you as soon as possible. Your patience and understanding is truly appreciated.

Your participation in the contest is very valuable to us and we want to return quality feedback that will truly be of help to you. Please bear with us as we work through this challenging time.

Sincerely,
Donna White, Coordinator

www.ScriptSavvy.net

HERE’S AN IDEA – let’s not wait until the deadline PASSES and then say “Oh by the way, we’re not gonna make the SECOND deadline that we promised you after we missed the first one. Our bad.”

They did announce the winners. I’m not one of them. I’m not surprised. But I am shocked at how hard this hit me. I haven’t been thinking too much about this review, but I guess I was more stressed out it than I thought. And I believed them when they said they would meet this deadline. I was very keyed up and stressed out when I got out of bed at 5am because, good or bad, I EXPECTED MY REVIEW.

Finding out I DIDN’T WIN and not getting the feedback makes me more scared than ever. I already sent this script – without paying the extra feedback fee, last year and I didn’t win then, so I shouldn’t be suprised. I’m not surprised. But it still hurts.

This contest is monthly one and usually has 150 -175 submissions with 4 winners.

Suddenly, all the doubts and anxieties come slamming back.

If I can’t beat 175 writers, how will I ever beat the 50,000 other writers who register scripts with the WGA every year?

Only another Wannabe can truly understand how I feel right now. Too bad I don’t know any.

The Scary Part of Writing

Getting reviews is no doubt the scariest part of being a writer, at least for me. The main reason I started this support group for Wannabes is to have other Wannabes share their experiences on the rough road to success, like facing scary reviews of the work that they slaved over.

Sadly, no one is doing this.

The message boards were designed for actors to post about auditions they go on – vent went they don’t go well and celebrate when they do. Musicians could post about their frustrations in not getting good gigs and brag when they finally get a good one. Other writers were supposed to write about their own experiences with getting reviews.

The idea was for me to reach out to other Wannabes to find out I’m not alone in this.

Turns out, I guess I am alone. Of course, there must be thousands of people going through what I’m going through. I just can’t find them. I don’t know where you all are. I’ve gotten hundreds of comments on my blogs so far. ALL of them, save for less than 5, are spam. This is hard for me to accept, because it’s just another form of rejection.

I’m expecting to get one review on my script this week – possibly two. It’s times like this that I really wish I knew someone – anyone –even a stranger – who really, truly understand how hard it is to wait for a review. This review will come from a contest called Script Savvy. This is a script I wrote about two years or so ago. It went through many reviews back then, but I’m sending it for another review now because I plan to write the same story as a novel when I finish the current script I’m working on.

The script – called QUEEN HENRY- is my very favorite. I feel it’s the best thing I’ve ever written. I’ve written about the script on my blog before – it got HORRIBLE reviews at first and I worked on it until it was good enough to be a Finalist in a small contest in 2007. It’s one of the few scripts that makes me feel good every time I go back to read it. I’m proud of it. I just have this gut feeling when I read it – this one is good.

Which is what makes it so hard went it doesn’t get a good review. The most recent draft has gotten mixed reviews – it was a Finalist in one contest. A producer was not impressed, saying it didn’t “dazzle” him. Another contest reviewer said it should have been a drama. It’s gay-themed, and he felt it should be written as a serious issue. He actually said it was not something to make light of.

I’ll repeat that, people. He said I should not make light of the issue of being gay….

Seriously, if it’s one group of people who know how to poke fun of themselves and their own struggle – it’s gay people!! Jewish people, too, for that matter.

Anyway, after not sending the script out for years, I entered it in a contest – reviews to be sent out Tuesday, August 31. Then on Friday, August 27, I get this email from a production company, out of the blue:

“I received a query letter from you a few years ago regarding QUEEN HENRY and for some reason, I couldn’t throw it away. To be fair, I don’t think there’s even a slight chance that I will get the film made, but I’m still interested in reading the screenplay as a writing sample.”

Odd, to say the least. Does he mean he personally does not have the power to make the film because he works in the mailroom? Or does he mean, given the subject matter, he doubts he could get it made? I did once have a producer chastise me for writing something like this because it is no longer “relevant”. He asked if I had a gay son or something, because he said no one cares if you’re gay anymore…

This man probably lives two streets away from San Francisco and has not watched the news for the last decade, given the white-hot button issue of gay marriage and DADT, and the fact that the entire country is split down the middle when it comes to gays…

Sorry for the rant (says the blog writer to the gaping, empty hole in cyberspace…though I will give a shout-out to the two people I know who read the blog – Hi Debbie and Zann!!!), but as you can see, reviews of Queen Henry have been all over the map. It just figures that, after all these years of no reviews on the script, on the one week that I’m expecting a contest review, a production company pops out of the woodwork asking for the damn thing.

This could be an exciting week or a hell of a downer. Either way, I will tell you the truth about the reviews. Stay tuned.